Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Research article
04 Apr 2016
Research article |  | 04 Apr 2016

A fast SWIR imager for observations of transient features in OH airglow

Patrick Hannawald, Carsten Schmidt, Sabine Wüst, and Michael Bittner

Abstract. Since December 2013 the new imaging system FAIM (Fast Airglow IMager) for the study of smaller-scale features (both in space and time) is in routine operation at the NDMC (Network for the Detection of Mesospheric Change) station at DLR (German Aerospace Center) in Oberpfaffenhofen (48.1° N, 11.3° E).

Covering the brightest OH vibrational bands between 1 and 1.7 µm, this imaging system can acquire two frames per second. The field of view is approximately 55 km times 60 km at the mesopause heights. A mean spatial resolution of 200 m at a zenith angle of 45° and up to 120 m for zenith conditions are achieved. The observations show a large variety of atmospheric waves.

This paper introduces the instrument and compares the FAIM data with spectrally resolved GRIPS (GRound-based Infrared P-branch Spectrometer) data. In addition, a case study of a breaking gravity wave event, which we assume to be associated with Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities, is discussed.

Short summary
This paper presents a ground-based, short-wave infrared camera system for measurements of the OH airglow originating in the middle atmosphere. The camera has a high temporal and spatial resolution of 0.5 s and 200 m (at 90 km height), which allows for detailed observations of atmospheric waves and other transient phenomena. Details regarding the instrument, calibration and preprocessing are discussed exemplarily for an event of two superposing gravity waves with associated instability structures.